Recipe: Marinated Strawberries and Radishes

“I got the best adult toy ever.”

When I said that on the Facebook, some of our friends got overly curious about what it is.

What do you think it is?

I got an Iphone, finally. It’s a lot more easy and fun than I thought, and to my surprise, it saves me a ton of time. As you know, I like things easy, efficient and fun.

One example is taking a photo for my blog.

OK, the quality of the photo may not be as good as it could be, but just being able to take a photo, upload it on Facebook immediately without downloading and all that hassle, AND be able to use it for my blog post right away. I’m writing this post as a reply to my email with that photo on my IPhone. WordPress has this great feature that if I send it to a particular email ID, it gets posted on my blog immediately. It’s amazing as soon as I push “Send/Receive” on my Outlook, I will find an email from WordPress that a new article is posted on “Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard”.

So when I made this new dish my friend Fumi told me about, I took a photo with my brand new IPhone and posted on Facebook immediately, as a practice. Yes, it’s the dish those who came to my class last Saturday get to sample. : )

She found this recipe from a new Japanese movie called “Eatrip” that I’d love to see.

The combination of strawberries and radishes sounds a bit strange, but it’s really nice and refreshing. Best to eat it when it’s marinated for about 3 hours, not too long (it gets limp.)

Marinated Strawberries & Radishes (from Japanese movie “Eatrip“)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack strawberries (cut in half or quarter if big)
  • 1 bunch radishes – about 10 (sliced thin)
  • 2 TBS Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • 2 TBS Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 TBS Turbinado or Brown Sugar
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Mix EVOO, Wine Vinegar, Sugar well in a container with a lid.
2. Add Strawberries and radishes and mix gently to coat them well with the vinaigrette. Season with a little bit of Salt and pepper to taste.
3. Cover, and let it marinate for about 3 hours in the fridge.

Note: You can use the leftover juice as strawberry vinaigrette for salad. I mixed it with mentsuyu noodle soup base for my cold Japanese noodle salad the next day, it was delicious! (and yes, my leftover sliced radishes also adorned this pretty dish.) I’ll share the recipe on the next post!

By the way, it’s still not late to sign-up for Diageo Wine-Pairing Teleseminar on Friday, and get access to their great Employee Wine Sale.

Want to know more? Check out this post.

Or sign up immediately from here.

Feel free to share with your friends and family who’d love to stock up great wine for great price!

So what’s your favorite function or apps on your IPhone? Please share with me.

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Aunt Else’s Aebleskiver Pan and Mix Review & Starter-Kit Give Away

   

Thank you so much for your comments on what do you think the pan is for, and what would you fill in these…
I was amazed by your creativity, and all the possibilities the pan offers.  Your answers certainly made me (and many others) very hungry… 

The answer is….  As quite a few of you guessed, Aebleskiver pan!   

You may ask “What is Aebleskiver?”  Aebleskiver are Danish round pancakes that are often eaten before Christmas. (<- Click here for Wikipedia definition of Aebleskiver.) 

As some of you may remember from my post of FoodBuzz Blogger Festival in November, the guy in the red outfit, living somewhere very cold up North sent the pan and mix around Thanksgiving as early Christmas presents.  This is one of the perks as a Featured Publisher at FoodBuzz.  I get to try many cool things and restaurants and write about it. 

This is my Skiver Santa, Chad Gillard from Aunt Else’s in Minnesota.  

   

I’ve been having fun with this every weekend, which I call Skiver Saturday or Skiver Sunday.  The best part is, these Aebleskivers are great not only for traditional apple slices, but with almost anything.  As you know, I love varieties and experimenting!  That’s why you may have already seen a few photos of them with many different things on top on Facebook, etc.  I never get bored.  And now I have even more ideas, thanks to you, I will be able to have fun with it for a very very long time! 

When I’m at home, these are the things I gather on typical weekend.   

Gorgonzola cheese, cheddar, chicken, sliced turkey, shrimp, cramberry apple batter, sauteed mirepoix and sauteed leeks. And of course one each of apple, banana and nutella.   

   

When we tried this first at our friends over Thanksgiving, I didn’t want to bother our friends with their computer password, I wanted to try so bad, I didn’t watch the video on AuntElse Website, they stuck really badly, and some of the got burnt as well.  Since then, My Skiver Santa has given me a pointer from the Northern land, so I now heat the pan for 10-15 min at low-medium heat as soon as I wake up.    

As soon as we pour the batter, it puffs up pretty quickly, so I put all these fun and different fillings in each well. Can you tell I pefer savory food to sweets, and lots of varieties?   

   

The trick is to:   

1. Season the pan well in advance, and use enough oil.   

2. Heat the pan at medium low heat for 10 – 15 minutes until hot. (Set the timer and prepare the filling during that time. If you still have time, watch the video one more time, and learn how to turn.)   

3. Aunt Else mix puffs up a lot quickly.  I recommend pouring about 2 TBS batter in each well, starting from the four corners, then middle four, and the very center well at the end.   

4. After adding the filling, if it doesn’t come up to the rim, add a little more. (The amount on the photo is a bit on the generous side, especially on the top row.  In my opinion,i t’s easier to turn if there’s no batter going outside of the well.)   

5. For perfectly round skivers, do the quarter turns as in the video. If you try to flip the entire thing 180 degrees, you’ll end up with half dome shaped skivers. : (   

It’s really important to pull the skivers UP 90 degrees, then they release itself like a magic!   Before I was trying to separate the balls from the wall, and that made them stick toghether more.  Every minutes or so, I pull them up another 90 degrees, and when you are finished with all four turns, you will have a perfectly round Aebleskivers!   

   

Just like these!   

   

Look at all these different fillings!  So much fun!   

   

Our favorites were:   

  • Trader Joe’s Cranberry Apple Butter 
  • Gruyere Cheese 
  • Apple slices  
  • Caramelized onion and gruyere cheese (Like French Onion soup) 

Sounds strange but defintely my favorite:   

  • Green onions, drops of Kikkoman soy sauce, and gruyere as filling, home-made mayonnaise on top (below).  I also tried Japanese takoyaki or okonomiyaki style with green onion and cabbage mixed into batter (I made more traditional Japanese style batter for this instead of AuntElse’s Aebleskiver mix for this) with seafood etc in it.  That was quite delicious as well. 

Aebleskivers are very similar to pancakes or crepes, so you can fill with anything you’d wrap with your crepes.  With so many options, this can be eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or dessert.  I told you, I love things that can be flexible and optimized.  I like the fact that you can have so much fun making it too.  This definitely passed my test!  Next time, I’ll try sauteed mushrooms, seafood with cream sauce etc. (Use leftovers, since you need so little.)  My husband thought I’m weird, but I’m contemplating using a meatball or quail egg as well.  You know, just like a Scotch Egg!  Will see.   

In terms of savory or sweet question, I found Aunt Else’s mix very versatile, it works for both…  just like a good crepe batter!  You can certainly add more sugar or salt if that’s what you prefer, but I found it just right.  

If you like it sweet, my guess is Japanese anko — sweet red bean paste will be great in Aebleskiver.  We have similar street snacks called Tai-yaki (Tai Snapper shaped pancake sandwich with anko in it) and Dora-yaki (two round pancakes filled with anko), and Imagawa-yaki (Flattened version of Aebleskiver?)  Click each link to see the photos to see the difference.   

   

For 2 of us, we just do one batch (1/2 of the amount of the smallest batch measurement on the back of the bag), and that’s plenty for brunch.  All you need per batch is one egg, 1 cup of water, and a scant cup of Aunt Else’s mix, which is made of organic whole wheat flour.  Even though you don’t have to whip up the egg white like some other Aebleskiver mix, it’s perfectly fluff.  It works great for both savory and sweet fillings.  It’s really fun activity especially with kids (of all ages).   

So in our household, Saturdays and Sundays are Skiver Days!     

Can I tell you a funny story about this?  

In my determination to not to break that new tradition, and my desire to share this fun activity with our niece and nephew, I even dragged that heavy cast iron Aebleskiver pan from the Bay Area to Milwaukee for our Christmas visit.  The problem is, the suitcase that had our pan in it decided to spend some time in warmer climate, and ended up in El Paso, TX.  The good news is, after spending 2 days of us worrying about the whereabouts of my favorite new toy/kitchen tool, our luggage was found at the snowing, fridged door steps of my in-laws. (Geez, guys!   It has something very VALUABLE!)  Well, this is surburban Milwaukee, not Oakland, CA.  Fridged means there’s no one hanging out to steal it.  Plus, these people are very friendly and nice, they often don’t even lock their door!   

Anyway, I found this note in our luggage… and the box we had the skiver pan was opened, and searched… These curious inspectors might have even made a few batches of Aebleskivers…  Who knows?  Well, it was the same day (Christmas day) when they had the fire scare in the plane, so I consider it a good thing.   

   

When we were in Milwaukee, we only tried some apples, pears, bananas with powdered sugar, apple sauce, and some cranberry sauce. Everyone loved them, kids, grandparents and adults.  I guess they realized that I too could make some sweet, more traditional dishes. (I am known to suggest something “weird” like new vegetables, flavors, or spices (Japanese food anyone?) to cook during our holiday visits in my attempt to add variety to casseroles — their kind of Christmas meals.)  

Thank you, my Skiver Santa, Chad Gillard from Aunt Else’s!  With this, everyday (OK, weekend) is like Christmas! 

Oh…  Our generous Skiver Santa wants YOU to have fun with your own Skiver set.  One lucky reader will get an Aunt Else Aebleskiver Starter Kit (both pan and the mix)!    

He also want you to learn more about Aebleskivers and ask questions.  So I am hosting a phone interview with Chad Gillard (aka Skiver Santa), the President of Aunt Else’s Aebleskivers and you are invited!  Don’t miss this unique opportunity. Invite your friends and family too.

All the details will be posted next week, including how to increase the chance of winning. (Wouldn’t you be most curious about this?  I would!)  Make sure to subscribe to Secrets of the Kitchen Wizard by email (sidebar, scroll down just a bit), so that you will be the first one to know.

 In the mean time, please write to our “Skiver Santa” at C.O.mment Box of this post about:

1. What you may want to do with the Skiver Starter Kit? 

2. Why you should be the one to win the kit? 

Again, one comment counts as one point.  Come up as many ideas and keep posting comments. You are welcome to go back to these 2 posts about  1. Aebleskiver pan , and 2. filling, and post more ideas.  

Santa is watching….

Good luck and have a great weekend! 

 

 

The Versatile World of Miso: Fancy Food Show, Miso and Natto Event Recap

As one of the major gastronomic capitals of the world, San Francisco hosts many food related events.

On Monday, I was invited as a guest to the educational seminar on “Miso and Natto: The Two Up and Coming Food from Japan” at Fancy Food Show at Moscone Center  sponsored by  JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization).  My friend Nobuko works for them, and she wanted me to write about it on my blog.

I’d love to!  It’s easy to convince me with good food.  And of course, I was curious about how they are positioning miso and (especially) natto, which is not known as the Japanese food most loved by non-Japanese…, yet.

This post features miso, which is very versatile, gaining popularity, and more readily available than its cousin, natto.  He’s a little more eccentric (it’s fermented, so quite sticky, and pungent), so I’ll save that post for later.   

Most non-Japanese knows miso because of popularity of miso-soup.  Many even call them just “miso”, and ask me “how do you make miso?” 

As represented in that question, many don’t know they can use miso much more than in miso-soup alone, and also can make hundreds of variety of miso soup using what they have in their fridge!  Making miso soup at home is very easy, and much cheaper and often tastier than these cups you pay at some of the Japanese restaurant for $3 or more per serving, or freeze-dried version at the store.

Plus evidence in Japan points to many health benefits such as relieving fatigue, reducing cholesterol, improving intestinal function and digestion, anti-aging, diminishing signs of aging skin, and even reducing the risk of cancer. 

The miso part was presented by Ema Koeda, Chef and Food & Wine Specialist.  She introduced the audience to the versatile world of miso and its health benefits with some Powerpoint presentation with mouth-watering photos. (For more information about miso, click here.) 

she demonstrated one dish which was delicious, super easy, and something everyone loves and are familiar with! 

Yes, you guessed it right.  The first photo you saw…  Japanese Miso Burger. If someone is thinking about start making miso soup at home, but don’t know what to do with the rest of the miso, start with this.  This is a perfect recipe to experience the versatility of miso, and what it can do for you in your kitchen.  Then start experimenting with adding in this and that as a secret ingredient. Soon you’ll be known as a great cook!

The amount of miso used in this burger is perfect…  not to little, not too much, and adds a lot of umami and depth of flavor and savoriness, anyone will love it.  I particularly loved the topping of scallions, and miso ketchup! 

Sendai miso called in the recipe will be hard to find, so simply look for yellow or red miso.  If you are using ground chicken, she suggested that white miso will work nicely.  Most large supermarkets (Asian Food section), health food stores, and gourmet markets sell basic miso pastes.  I recommend the Japanese kind, rather than American version for more authentic taste and ingredients.  If you want speciality miso, such as Sendai miso, call the Japanese market in your area.

Japanese Miso Burger By Ema Koeda

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lbs Ground beef
  • 1/2 Onion, minced
  • 1 Large egg, beaten
  • 4 TBS Panko (Japanese bread crumbs) 
  • 3 TBS Sendai Miso (or red or yellow miso)
  • 1 stick, long scallion, julienned and put in cold water
  • 4 burger buns
  • 3 oz ketchup
  • 1 TBS Sendai miso (or red or yellow)
  • 1 TBS walnuts, crushed
  • 3 TBS shallots, minced

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven at 350 F. (At the event, she simply fried the burgers in the skillet as shown in the photo above.)
  2. Combine beef, onion, egg, panko and miso in a large bowl till well combined, for about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Shape meat into patties a bit smaller than the size of buns, approximately 3.5 oz.
  4. Grill patties on medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side and cool.
  5. Combine ketchup, crumbled walnuts, miso and shallots for the sauce.
  6. Warm the buns in the oven, place the patty, ketchup, scallions and top the bun to cover.

Serves four.

The second dish Japanese Misoyaki Butterfish with Sizzling Soy Vinaigrette demonstrated by Jeff Hubbard, Chef Partner at Roy’s in San Francisco was impressive yet probably may not be the first one to try at home for the most people.  It’s mainly because you have to marinate the fish for 24 hours, requires 3 cups each of sake and mirin and 8 oz of miso, plus how the vinaigrette is made (see that fire!)…  It’s time-consuming and expensive, especially if you choose to follow the recipe exactly.  Watching a young, good-looking chef playing with fire was fun, but this is a type of food you may want to try at the restaurant….  He’ll understand, and probably love you for it : )

Using a lot more miso (8 oz for four 7 oz piece fish!) , and long marinating, it has much stronger miso taste than Ema’s burger recipe, which can be even loved by “miso-beginners”.  

I’ll be honest.  I normally do not like misoyaki.  Whether it’s fish or meat.  It’s probably because my dad used to get this miso-marinated Kobe beef for Oseibo gift giving season every year (or maybe for Ochugen in summer too!) from one of his patients.  The miso flavor was too overpowering, plus my mom cried (I’m serious) each time I didn’t want to eat something, so maybe I have bad memories. I begged my parents to let the person know that we appreciated it, but we prefer plain Kobe beef, but Mom’s answer was no.  It’s too rude.  So she lied every year when she called and thank the giver with “It’s our FAVORITE!  All four of us look forward to this special gift every year!”.  So the poor guy believed her and spent a fortune on something we were actually giving away year after year.  

Sorry, I got side tracked.  The kind of fish used for misoyaki is ALWAYS fatty fish, which I don’t care for.  Having said that, it’s my personal preference.  Many people love them, including lots of Americans I know.

What I liked about this particular version was Jeff (or Roy Yamaguchi himself, whoever developed the original recipe) uses soy vinaigrette with a lot of refreshing vegetables such as onions, daikon and tomatoes along with rice wine vinegar and lemon juice to cut the oiliness.  It’s also great way to incorporate more vegetables into our diet.

I won’t do the fire part so that so that don’t have to deal with the smoke in the house afterwards, but maybe I’ll come up with a short-cut and cheaper version of this with less oily fish.  Maybe it will convert me.  Or just make the vinaigrette.  It should be great with chicken, beef, salmon, and many different things.

It’s really nice to see more and more people are becoming intersted in Japanese ingredients and food beyond sushi and teriyaki because it’s not only tasty but healthy as well. It adds more flavor easily without adding extra sodium or fat. (Miso itself is salty, so be easy on salt if you are adding it as “secret ingredients”.) 

This event inspired me to experiment more with miso.  Just like Ema showed us, adding these Japanese ingredients to familiar dishe is a great way to start. Even though I’ve been using miso as secret ingredients here and there, it’d be fun to see how miso would enhance things like clam chowder!  I’ll report on it here as I experiment, so stay tuned!

Are you planning to incorporate miso into your kitchen?  If so, what will you experiment with?

Thanks for inviting me, Nobuko!

My friend Nobuko from JETRO (in special “Miso Apron” I want it!) and Eriko from Tofu-Life  in Benecia.

(Almost) Less Than 5: Sautéed Eggplant with Miso

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Sauted Eggplant with Miso

Many years ago, my fridge (or especially freezer) looked like a morgue.  No more. Ever since I started Kitchen Wizard, my kitchen is a lot more organized and that has helped me decide what to cook much quicker, and also reduced waste significantly.

They all have the labels with dates and contents, I know exactly what I need to use up soon, and for what.

Today, that item was grilled eggplant.  As some of you older readers remember, I posted a series of eggplant recipes over the summer. Throwing eggplants on the grill whether we plan to eat on that night or not, along side our chicken and sausages is a must for us, because they are one of the most convenient and versatile thing to have on hand. As the day gets colder and shorter, we don’t grill out much, but they are still handy in fall and winter too – for different dishes.

So I decided to make an easy Japanese dish that can be made with pantry items.  This really is a cinch if you already have grilled or sautéed eggplants (ideally cooked in vegetable oil, not olive oil). Obviously, grilled eggplants are healthier – it uses much less oil and salt.  You can also stick the whole eggplants in the toaster oven until soft. You can use a conventional oven too, yet a toaster oven heats much quicker (doesn’t require pre-heating), plus uses much less energy.

If you are vegetarian/vegan, omit the meat or chopped shiitake mushrooms as substitute.

Sautéed Eggplant with Miso

Ingredients (2-3 servings):

  • Ginger, sliced: about 1 ts
  • Green onions, chopped: about 3
  • Crushed chili (optional)
  • Japanese, Chinese or Italian Eggplants: (ideally already grilled) 5-6
    • This is a cinch if you have already grilled or sautéed eggplants. Cut in bite size pieces. You do not need to peel skin for this dish.
  • Ground meat: 4oz (100g)
  • Sake: 2 TBS (sprinkle 1 TBS on the meat, mix 1 TBS into miso to create paste.)
  • Soy sauce: 1 ts
  • Sugar: pinch
  • Miso: 1 – 2 TBS

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a skillet. Cook sliced ginger and green onions (and chili, if you are using) on medium-high heat until fragrant. (If you don’t have cooked eggplants, add oil and sauté sliced eggplants. Add a little bit of salt to shorten the cooking time).  When soft, move toward the edge of the pan.
  2. If you have the cooked eggplants, add to the onion ginger mixture. Add ground meat and any sake residue, and cook until brown.
  3. Add soy sauce and pinch of sugar, and mix in the miso/sake mixture. Taste and adjust seasoning.  Serve hot with steamed rice.

Kitchen Wizard Leftover Make-Over Tip:

If there’s any left over, add hot water and miso and make eggplant and ground meat miso soup.  Add extra green onion on top.

This is a kind of dish they serve at Izakaya as well as at home in Japan…  So maybe you should have some beer or sake with this, and pretend that you are in Japan!

And Finally… Doria Proper Way… (In Case I haven’t Convinced You…)

"It's Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder! It's Seafood Doria Now!"

"It's Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder! It's Seafood Doria Now!"

To show you that you can make some doria with white sauce leftover (or from scratch), here’s the recipe to make some doria proper way.  Of course, you can make this into a vegetarian version by using things like spinach, cauliflower, asparagus, etc.

Do this when you have time though… It takes a while…

Doria Proper Way…

Ingredients (2-3 servings):

  • Cooked rice: 2 cups
  • Butter: 1 TBS
  • Onion, chopped: 1/2 cup
  • Chicken or shrimp, bite size: 1/2 lbs (200 – 250g)
  • Mushrooms, sliced: 5-6 (Optional)
  • White Sauce:
    • Butter: 3 TBS
    • Flour: 3 TBS
    • Milk: 3 C
  • Grated Cheese, gruyere, cheddar, etc: 2 oz (50g). If using Parmeggiano Reggiano, grate with Microplane, you’d only need about 1 oz or less.
  • Panko (optional), 1 TBS
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

  1. Make buttered rice. Melt butter in a skillet, sauté day old or thawed rice, season well. Many dorias in Japan has ketchup mixed in.
  2. Sautee chopped onion or leek until soft. Add seafood (shrimp is most popular) or bite-size chicken & sliced mushrooms. Season with Salt and Pepper.
  3. Make white sauce: Heat butter in a skillet, add flour and stir well until it’s cooked. Add heated milk, whisk consistently, and cook until thickened, and there’s no lumps nor floury taste. Season with salt and pepper. Add the seafood/chicken mixture.
  4. In shallow oven proof dishes, layer buttered rice thinly & lightly (2/3 – 1″), and pour over the white sauce. Top with grated cheese (and panko if you like), and bake until golden brown.

Kitchen Wizard Tips:

  • Grate extra cheese, and save it in a sealed container.  Use it when you make pasta, soup, salad, toast, etc.
  • Make extra white sauce, cover it with plastic wrap on top, squeeze the air out completely to prevent thick skin from forming.  Use it for something else later. Huge time saver!

As you can imagine, you could make this with short pasta instead of rice. Then it’s simply called “gratin” in Japan as well. In this case, you should mix the cooked pasta with heated sauce (or chowder) first, and top it with more sauce, before adding cheese.  It tastes better that way, than biting into bland pasta.

Now I figured out a quick way to make a decent doria, I can guarantee we’ll see them on our table more often.  I may even serve it to our guests and see if they can figure out how I made it.  : )

Try both, and please post which one you liked it.

Leftover Make-over: Chowder to Doria 3: “It’s Not Only For Chowder! It’s For Seafood Doria Too!”

"It's Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!  It's Seafood Doria Now!"

"It's Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder! It's Seafood Doria Now!"

As I mentioned on Monday, as I was enjoying this creamy yumminess of “Not Bleeding Chowder!” inspired seafood chowder, I realized this smoked-fish-less version would be also good to be turned into a doria, a quintessential Japanized yoshoku (western food).

It’s basically some buttered rice in a heatproof dish with white sauce with some kind of sautéed meat or seafood with onion (chicken and shrimp are popular) and baked with lots of cheese on top.  Something I loved as a child when I was growing up in Tokyo, along with the macaroni version which we simply called them “gratin”.

Since my mom never wanted make something complicated, nor white sauce, for me they were something I’d order when we go out to eat.  To give her some slack, to make doria from scratch, it takes more than 1 hour, and you have to deal with making white sauce.  And the challenge is, there are no dorias in the restaurants in the US!

Because of that, I, too probably made it only a few times in last 20 years, which equals the number of times I ate doria, because they are nowhere to be found in the US (except for, of course, these Japanese Yoshoku restaurants in Los Angeles.  A bit too far!)

Now with my “It’s Not Only For Bleeding Chowder!”, it can be for doria too.  Very easily.  Especially if you have some of these rice balls in the freezer.  If you do, microwave it first so that butter will melt.  As I confessed in my last post, this is a super-short cut version.  I will post the proper way to make a doria on my next post.

Seafood Doria

Ingredients (2-3 servings):

Directions:

  1. Mix butter into hot rice and season well.
  2. Pour seafood chowder on top of buttered rice.  Then top with grated cheese.  Optionally, sprinkle with some panko.
  3. Bake in 400F oven until bubbly and golden brown. (If both the rice and sauce are hot, you can broil it in the oven or “Toast” setting on toaster oven until golden brown, about 7-8 min.)

Yummy doria in 1/3 of the effort and time! I love it!

The next post…  Another way to make doria, another useful trick when you already have sautéed chicken or shrimp, or white sauce. Or if you are in a mood to make this from scratch.  Also few key time-saving tips, so that even if you make this from scratch, you can still optimize and save time and effort later.

Yes… Kitchen Wizarding is all about optimizing your resources (time, money, ingredients, etc…) in the kitchen.  Maximized food with minimized effort.

So stay tuned.  You can subscribe to Secrets of Kitchen Wizard via email (best in my opinion), RSS or Facebook Networked Blogs application.  Click the link from the top right of the page, right below the red pots on the header photo.

Kevin Dundon’s “Duncanon Seafood Chowder” Recipe (Basically “It’s Not Bleeding Chowder” from Raglan Road”)

OH MY GOD!  OH MY GOD!  OH MY GOD!

This morning, I got a comment on my blog from Kevin Dundon, THE chef who created the “It’s Not Bleeding Chowder” who cooked for U2, about my post! 

He commented,

I am delighted that you are featuring my recipe on the your web site for more recipes checkout http://www.kevindundon.com

Good Eating

Kevin

To someone like me who loves to cook, loves to eat good food, plus loves everything Irish -especially cute, talented, smily Irish men, it was like the real GOD talking to me!

Can I say it again?  “Oh my God!”  It’s like my prayers answered.  My Irish God is smiling down at me!

As you can imagine, in my mind, I hear Bono singing away “It’s a Beautiful Daaaaaaaaay!”, and also “When Irish Eyes are smiling”.  I told you, I love them both.

I’m very excited, honored, astonished…. and a bit embarrassed.  So THE Kevin Dundon saw my picture? (Compared the one on his site, it looks shabby…)  He even saw my recipe? The cabbage comment?  And I wrote “fish stock or CHICKEN stock” to make it more accessible?  Geez.  

I might take that Chicken broth out and change to water, since the God said fish stock or water.  And take the cabbage comment out….  Make the real version with more seafood with shells and replace the photo…  And now to think about it, I think the version we ate at Raglan Road might have had fennel infused broth and cubes of fennel in it.  I forgot about it…  It’s nearly 2 years ago, and my memory is fading! I’m not 25 any more!

But he’s the best chef in Ireland who can charge a lot of Euros for his creations. On top of that, he cooks for people like U2 and Queen Elizabeth!  On the other hand, I was just trying to translate my memory of that tasty creation to an everyday table, easily.

It’s time to shut up my evil little voice.

Anyway, maybe it was your prayers too…  On his website, there is a recipe for “Duncanon Seafood Chowder” which is basically the same with Raglan Road’s “It’s Not a Bleeding Chowder!”

So here it is. Kevin Dundon’s real seafood chowder recipe.  Enjoy!http://www.kevindundon.com/duncanonSeafoodChowder.html

Me? Of course I’ll make the God’s real version soon!

When I do that, I will add more seafood with shells to include a photo of a more impressive chowder on this post.  (I can’t copy and paste that beautiful photo from his website, you know?)

Oh, and for those of you who have been waiting for the doria recipe, don’t worry, I’ll post it tomorrow.  I just wanted to share my excitement, and his recipe with you. : )

Leftover Make-over: Chowder to Doria 2: My version of “It’s Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder” Seafood Chowder

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Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant Inspired "It's Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!"

So here’s the recipe for my “It’s Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!”, inspired by the Best Irish Chef 2009 Kevin Dundon’s “It’s Not a Bleeding Chowder”. (Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, FL)

Ingredients (4-6 servings – Reserve half for the doria)

  • Cleaned and chopped leeks: about 1 large. Dark green part removed.
    • How to clean leeks:  Split the leek from the center lengthwise, bottom part attached, and wash off sand/dirt well with running water.
    • Save the tops for making chicken/fish/vegetable stock.
  • Diced boiling potatoes (such as Yukon Gold): 2 medium
  • Seafood (scallops & shrimps) chop them if they are large: 2/3 lbs (300g)
  • Bay leaf: 1
  • White Wine: 1/4-1/3 cup
  • Fish stock or Milk and fish bouillon (or chicken stock/bouillon): 2 1/2 cup
  • Corn:  1/2 – 2/3 cup
  • Cream: 1 1/2 cup

Directions:

  1. Sprinkle salt, pepper and white wine lightly on seafood.
  2. Clean leeks well and chop them.  Sautee in extra virgin olive oil, and light amount of salt.
  3. Add diced potatoes and sauté for a while, add seafood and white wine.
  4. Add fish stock or milk and crumbled fish bouillon and cook until hot, and seafood is heated through.  Make sure to not to boil it.
  5. Add cream and corn, and adjust the seasoning.  Serve hot.

Kitchen Wizard Tip: I highly recommend you clean and saute the entire bunch of leeks, and save the rest in a zip-loc bag for later use, either in the fridge or freezer (keep it thin, less than 1/3 inches so that you can break only the amount you need).  It’ll be very handy.  I promise!

The original version from Raglan Road has a lot more seafood, such as smoked fish, mussels, fancy prawns etc… It might have even had some shredded cabbage in it…  They had a Colcannon soup called Colpucchino that had cabbage in it… Mine is easier weeknight version.  You can also use other mild seafood on hand.  If you are planning to make doria later in the week, it’d be better not to use smoked fish.

Tomorrow on Secrets of a Kitchen Wizard…

Drum roll please… (Some people have been waiting for this post for a while!)

Leftover Make-over of this…  “It’s Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!  It’s Now Seafood Doria!”  Don’t miss it!

Leftover Make-over: Chowder to Doria 1: Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant “It’s Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!

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Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant Inspired "It's Not (Only For) Bleeding Chowder!"

One of my passions is Irish things.  Some of you may have seen my Facebook post about U2. Yes, I love them since the Edge had a mop of hair, and Bono and Larry looked like 10 years old. I also love pretty much all other kind of Irish music too, even the kind used for traditional dancing which some people find to be repetitive.  Irish music makes me feel happy and calm.  When I visited Ireland, I felt I came back home – even more than when I go back to Japan.  Probably too much baggage associated with Tokyo! I think I was Irish in my previous life.

My love of Irish things even took me to a couple of months of Irish dancing lessons. It doesn’t look like much of a work out because the only things that are moving are the dancers’ legs, but Boy, it’s a major work out!  After one jig or reel, I was huffing and puffing!  After I learned a few different pieces, my teacher decided to move the location from Ft. Mason, walking distance from our home, and in the same building as our print-making class I was taking back to back, to more of an Irish American neighborhood.  Her marketing decision resulted in the loss of one student (me) and probably a gain of many students that fit much closer to her ideal target market profile.  So our (me and my teacher’s) dream of me dancing with these curly blond wigs and these elaborate stitched outfits never came true.  Maybe it’s a good thing. Or maybe I should make my silly dream come true on one of these Halloweens.

Anyway, when we had a chance to go to Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL, I insisted to my husband that we HAVE TO go to Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Downtown Disney. They have an Irish band and dancing every night! My inner Irish wanted to have some comforting Irish food and most of all, Irish music. The chef cooked for U2 and Queen (not Freddie Mercury, but Elizabeth II.)  That was good enough of a validation for me.

I was in heaven there, because not only the band excellent, they played for hours, just like in Ireland. (My husband had to drag me out because we had a very early morning flight.)  Many photos of my favorite Irish (and non-Irish) celebrities like U2, Pierce Brosnan, Thin-Lizzy, Sting, etc. adorned their walls leading to the bathroom.  Love this sense of humor! Perfect thing to look at when you are waiting for your turn to pee after many pints of Guiness!  No worries, their bath room accommodates many people, and you can even continue to listen to the fine music!!

OK. Food.  Irish food is not known as the best food in the world.  Maybe the reputation is getting better now, compared with when I was there in 95. Yet, maybe because  I’m Irish in my previous life(?), I thought most of the food was very good and satisfying, even though not fancy.

One of the dishes we chose  at the restaurant was called “It’s not the bleeding chowder!” and it was really delicious!  The inside was super dark, so I couldn’t see what was in it.  Along with the loads of seafood on top, I identified something green most likely leeks, yet since it’s an Irish restaurant, there may have been cabbage, especially since they DO have frothy colcannon (potato & cabbage) soup called Colpucchino.    They use smoked fish as a base, and bit of bacon (I think), and that gave the chowder (or “not the chowder”) an interesting twist.

It was good enough to inspire me to make similar chowder at home using smoked trout I can get from Costco.

So when I found a pack of heavy cream that was near the expiration date one rainy evening, I realized that we haven’t had the “not the Chowder” thing for a long time.  I also had some sauteed leek.  Yes, the green things I identified in the chowder.  That’d save quite a bit of time and headache.  I didn’t have all the fresh seafood, but I always have some shrimp and scallops in the freezer!  That should work!

What I didn’t realize until I tasted it was that I forgot the smoked fish.

None the less it was very tasty.

As I ate it, and tasted the difference between the usual version with smoked fish and the one without, I realized that this would be perfect to make seafood doria!

That’s right! It’s not named “It’s not bleeding chowder!” for no reason. It’ll be DORIA tomorrow!

Doria is something we Japanese love.  It’s basically buttered rice in oval baking dish, covered with white sauce with either chicken or seafood in it, and baked with cheeses on top.  It’s a perfect fall to winter dish.  It’s quintessential Japanese Yoshoku (Western Food), Japanized French/Italian influenced food.

So two days later (I prefer not to eat leftovers and their spin-offs back to back for nutritional reasons), I decided to do something unthinkable for those with conventional minds.  I wanted to experiment what I would end up with a minimum effort.  So rather than making buttered rice in a skillet, I made buttered rice by just mixing butter, salt and generous amount pepper into some microwaved hot rice from the freezer. And I poured a generous amount of chowder, topped it with grated cheese and baked it in the toaster oven until it was golden brown.

To compare, I made one with cold chowder on hot rice, another with heated chowder on hot rice.  The result?  Taste-wise, negligible.  However, if you heat the chowder first, the dish will be hot and bubbly faster. But you need to add the time to heat it first, so both end up taking about the same…

Of course, if I made a proper doria with real buttered rice, sauteed aromatics and seafood, and white sauce, bake it with cheese, and compare it with the short cut version side by side, I might have been able to tell the difference. But I was so smart! I didn’t!  So I was able to taste the quick version as it is, without anything to affect my judgment.

At the beginning, my husband couldn’t even tell how I made it. (that’s always a good thing.  You want your family to think you made it from scratch, you are just a wizard in the kitchen whipping up tasty meals like this in no time!)

And the verdict was a solid A, and I was stoked to find out that I can make doria without making white sauce.

Of course, if you have some sauteed shrimp, bite size chicken etc, you can use that leftover, make a quick white sauce and do a proper version of doria too.

Either way, something that used to take close to 1 hour and a lot of work, is now done in pretty much in no time.  Your child can even make it…

Tomorrow, I’ll post my version of “It’s not the bleeding chowder!”, followed by How to make doria from chowder, then how to make doria from sauteed leftovers.

So stay tuned…

Batch and fridge: Sautéed Mirepoix Tomato and Meat Mixture — Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed Cabbage

Stuffed Cabbage

It’s getting dark, cold, and RAINY in the Bay Area.  Yes, this fall is exceptionally rainy, and it rains cats and dogs, and that’s not enough, as if all the animals are falling from the sky. And I heard that those people in Colorado, Nebraska etc. already had 6 inches on snow, in early October?  Not just global warming, the weather is strange lately.

On an evening like that, and especially when I’m recovering from sickness, one thing I crave for is stuffed cabbage.

Believe it or not (I might have said that before), 99% of Japanese housewives cook Japanese, other Asian, as well as European origin food as normal repertoire. At least the last 50 years, that has been the norm.  Japanese are known to adopt great things from other countries and improve it to make it more efficient, like cars and electronics. And maybe not as well known fact outside of Japan, but food is definitely one of them.  We Japanize it with the ingredients that are available in Japan, and make it our own.

So, when I was little, and get sick, one of the things I craved for was “Rolled Cabbage” which is stuffed cabbage. Not just at my house, but ask 100 Japanese, whether they live in Japan or elsewhere, I can guarantee majority will say “I make them once in a while.”  We even have Japanese version, which often is found in oden, Japanese pot-au-feu.

The problem with Stuffed cabbage is it takes quite a long time to make it from scratch. But through my Kitchen Wizarding Process, I found a very easy way, that only takes about half or less time, and as tasty!

Plus my version uses mirepoix as its base, and not much meat, so it’s super healthy.  If you are vegetarian, or vegan, omit meat.

To make it even healthier, you can use other kinds of grains and even more vegetables, instead of rice. If the stuffing is too loose, add a beaten egg, so that it’ll serve as a binding agent.

So here’s Kitchen Wizard’s stuffed cabbage recipe!

Stuffed Cabbage

Ingredients:

  • Sautéed Mirepoix, Meat and Tomato Mixture – about 1 cup
  • Cooked rice – about 1 cup
  • Grated cheese – about 1/4 cup (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • A head of cabbage
  • 1/3 –1/4 Can of tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, chopped
  • Chicken or vegetable broth
  • Cream

Directions:

  1. Remove the core of the cabbage, and stuff the hole with a moist paper-towel.  Wrap it with plastic wrap, and microwave it until cooked through, turning once in the middle. (about 5 min for small head cabbage, about 1 lb.  About 8-9 min for a 2 pounder.) This will allow the leaves to come out easily.
  2. Mix cooked rice and sautéed mirepoix, meat and tomato mixture about 50/50. Add cheese if preferred. Mix and season well.  Sprinkle some salt on the cabbage. Wrap a few tablespoons of the rice mixture with the cabbage leaves tightly.  Secure the end with tooth pick or broken spaghetti.
  3. Arrange the cabbage rolls into a pan as tightly as possible, trying not to leave any space.  If there’s any space, stuff with leftover cabbage.
  4. Add broth to barely cover the cabbage rolls.  Top with chopped tomatoes, and place a lid or plate that is one size smaller than the opening, so that the rolls will not float up. Cook for about 20-30 min.  (If you are short with time, cook in microwave, in several minute increments.  Be careful not boil over the broth.)
  5. Serve immediately with cream on top.

Note: Do you have any cooked cabbage leftover?  Great!  Because it’s really handy!  You can shred it and add to miso soup, other kind of soup, mix with vinaigrette to make simple salad as a side dish, sauté lightly with salt and pepper, with tomatoes, curry powder, bacon, etc. etc.

They were so yummy, they made the last bit of my sickness go away…

Never forget, nourish your soul with good, whole food, not just body…  It’ll thank you and give back 100 times! And the best way to do that is through home-cooking.  Treat yourself with your childhood favorite from time to time!